Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The "F" Bomb Discussion

I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I joined this group back in 2003. It's a great group of writers striving to give God glory through stories and words. One of the many perks of being a member is you have access to published authors, editors, agents and so on. And one of the best ways to keep in touch with the 2,000+ members is through the e-mail "loop." On this loop you can post questions, post answers, read interesting opinions on every topic imaginable and keep abreast of what's going on in the world of Christian publishing.

Most recently an unsuspecting member posted the following question (paraphrased) to the loop:

"Can I use the "F" bomb in my book?"

Now, I don't know the guy who posted this question. I don't know what type of books he writes. But his question is legitimate in my opinion. He simply wanted to know if one of his "bad" characters could use that word. Period.

The answer is a simple, "No, you can't use that word in Christian fiction." Period.

Why? There are too many readers, and for that matter, too many editors that would take offense. I myself am a reader that does not want to read that word, even uttered by a bad guy. It's a nasty word. I don't like it at all. Obviously this writer wanted a legitimate answer, otherwise he wouldn't have posted the question.

But when I saw his original post, I thought: "UH-OH!" I know from experience what he's in for. A few weeks ago I posted a similar question about using the "n" word in historical fiction. Ohmygosh! You would have thought I'd used that word myself instead of simply asking if it could be used in the context similar to that of UNCLE TOM'S CABIN (published 1852) or CANE RIVER (published 2001).

And I was right about what this poor "f" bomb poster was in for!

The outpouring of sermons flooded the loop! On and on the responses came. On and on this poster felt smaller and smaller as his fellow writers preached on the evils of the word. Some even seemed to question the poster's Christianity since he was obviously willing to use such a vile word in his book.


Why can't Christians have a calm, thoughtful discussion on "taboo" topics without climbing into the pulpit? I'm as guilty as the next. I've done my share of 'sermonizing' about topics that get me fired up. But is that really the way to go about it? Did this fellow Christian really need to have Bible verses or Oswald Chambers quoted to him? Was it right to make this guy feel so bad that he apologized to the loop for simply asking a question??

My own experience with the "n" word question and now reading the responses to my fellow writer on his "f" word question have made me truly aware of how quick we are to preach when preaching is not necessary. Even to our own Brothers and Sisters.

No wonder the world doesn't want to hear from us.


Steve G said...

That's the Christian mentality, unfortunately, and you are right in your conclusion. We want people to be "clean" like us before we will acknowledge their worth before God.

That is also the Christian market. The Christian market for novels is about entertaining Christians. Look at the top 50 novels on the ECPA list and count the bonnets:

Michelle Shocklee said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

I do love the Christian fiction market and I do love Christian fiction (although I have yet to read a 'bonnet' book! ha!). I also fully recognize the need to "be holy" because God is holy. If we claim to belong to Him, then our lives need to reflect that, including what we say and write. But there is a time and place for sermons...and a Christian fiction e-mail loop is not that place.

Blessings to you and yours,
~Michelle Shocklee